Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 6503–6516 | Cite as

Tacking the vector of Xylella fastidiosa: geo-statistical analysis of long-term field observations on host plants influencing the distribution of Phylaenus spumarius nymphs

  • Arianna Latini
  • Cipriano Foxi
  • Flavio Borfecchia
  • Andrea Lentini
  • Luigi De Cecco
  • Domenico Iantosca
  • Mauro Serafini
  • Ugo Laneri
  • Marco Citterio
  • Alessandro Campiotti
  • Giovanni BenelliEmail author
  • Susanna Mariani
Research Article


The meadow froghopper, Philaenus spumarius L., is endemic in Italy and was not considered a harmful species until 2014, when the olive quick decline syndrome (OQDS) showed up in Apulia (southern Italy). It was immediately suspected and then verified as the main vector of Xylella fastidiosa, the bacterium responsible for the disease. Currently, EU Directives consider the fight against P. spumarius compulsory in member states and recommend Integrated Pest Management (IPM), both in uncultivated and cultivated infested areas, to minimise the environmental impact of chemical pesticides. This should be based on an improved knowledge of the vector with its seasonal trends and feeding habits linked to specific herbaceous species. In this context, our field study was aimed to improve the understanding of the vector nutritional behaviour, especially at its critical nymph stage, by monitoring its presence on different herbaceous target species, using its typical feeding foams as key indicator. The study area was in Lazio region (central Italy), dedicated to olive growing and still unaffected by the X. fastidiosa plague. Over two years, during the nymph development period, field data have been acquired over the test area and then analysed by coupling statistical (ANOVA), geographical information system (GIS) and geo-referenced field sampling approaches. Results highlighted that P. spumarius exhibits significant preferences for specific herbaceous plants, especially at its early development stages, detectable by tenuous spittle. This indicates female oviposition activity, which seems also not influenced by olive tree proximity. Furthermore, the non-host plant species identified here could be suitable for creating green barriers for limiting the vector diffusion to contiguous areas where sensible plantations are growing. In the final section, applied implications arising from the present findings for P. spumarius population management are discussed.


Meadow spittlebug Olive quick decline syndrome (OQDS) Hemiptera Aphrophoridae Host preference Georeferenced sampling schema Geographical information system (GIS) 



We are grateful to Prof. Philippe Garrigues for inviting this contribution on Environmental Science and Pollution Research. Three anonymous reviewers kindly improved an earlier version of our manuscript. The authors wish to thank the Direction of ENEA Casaccia Research Centre for its availability and collaboration in the current study. We are grateful to Dr. Irene Mantovani and Dr. Carmela Mastrota, students from “La Sapienza” University of Rome, for field assistance during their bachelor thesis.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

11356_2018_3870_MOESM1_ESM.doc (1.1 mb)
ESM 1 (DOC 1.07 mb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arianna Latini
    • 1
  • Cipriano Foxi
    • 2
  • Flavio Borfecchia
    • 3
  • Andrea Lentini
    • 2
  • Luigi De Cecco
    • 3
  • Domenico Iantosca
    • 3
  • Mauro Serafini
    • 4
  • Ugo Laneri
    • 3
  • Marco Citterio
    • 5
  • Alessandro Campiotti
    • 1
  • Giovanni Benelli
    • 6
    Email author
  • Susanna Mariani
    • 1
  1. 1.DUEE, Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic DevelopmentENEA Casaccia Research CentreRomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of Agriculture, Section of Plant Pathology and EntomologyUniversity of SassariSassariItaly
  3. 3.SSPT-PROTER-OAC, Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic DevelopmentENEA Casaccia Research CentreRomeItaly
  4. 4.Department of Environmental BiologyUniversity “La Sapienza”RomeItaly
  5. 5.ISER, Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic DevelopmentENEA Casaccia Research CentreRomeItaly
  6. 6.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversity of PisaPisaItaly

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